Nigeria Dam Collapse Destroys Hundreds of Homes
By Nico Colombant Dakar02 October 2006
Hundreds of homes have been destroyed in the collapse of a dam in northern Nigeria, but no one is confirmed dead, contradicting earlier reports.
Relief workers gave out water purification tablets in Zamfara state, after floods washed away hundreds of homes and polluted drinking water.
Flood victims sought shelter inside schools, following Saturday's heavy rains, which caused a dam on the outskirts of the state capital, Gusau, to collapse.
State officials contradicted earlier reports from police and witnesses that dozens of people had been killed, saying instead they were missing and most had now been found.
Eric Babajide, a journalist covering the story, says people are still dubious about what really happened.
"I think actually there ...[is] a cover-up because even in the press today all the papers announced it, even yesterday, the same thing," he said. "The governor of that state has already cried for help and this shows really that there is a problem in that state."
There have been other recent incidents in Nigeria in which high-level government officials have initially denied disasters, such as plane crashes, took place or then given completely wrong information about the number of dead.
Babajide says there is general panic over the possible effects of heavy rains in many parts of Nigeria.
"We have a lot of rain everywhere in the country, especially in those areas of the north," he said. "The rain has been very very disturbing and I believe strongly that a lot of damage has been done, not only in Zamfara state, but in the whole north."
Officials say a dam in nearby Sokoto state recently failed to release floodwaters because of a problem with sediment building up.
The government says it contracted a construction firm to look into some of the faulty dams.